Long-Distance Riding Tips for Beginners
Here’s one thing about cycling–it’s really addicting. You would start with casual city or park rides, but sooner or later, you’d want to explore the countryside and go on a long-distance ride with your bike. However, long-distance rides are significantly different than your daily cycling commute. Regardless if you’ve been doing city cycling for months, you might still find it hard to cross towns just with your bike.
It’s difficult, but it’s not impossible!
In this blog, we’ll share the best beginner tips for long-distance cycling. If you’re planning to hit the road this year, this blog is for you!
1. Check Your Gears
Of course, the first one on our list is checking your gear. Using city or commuter bikes for long-distance rides is not advisable, as they tend to have fewer gears that may force you to use nothing but your power to withstand uphill roads and maintain control on downhill roads.
For beginners, it’s best to have a cross-country bike, as they’re made to go through forests, fields, gravel paths, and other kinds of roads. Specialty mountain bikes such as enduro bikes, free-ride mountain bikes, and fat bikes are mostly used by competitive cyclists depending on the tour they’ll be joining.
2. Check Your Accessories
Next on our list is having the essential cycling accessories. This includes your helmet, right cycling clothes, bike lights, and GPS tracker–preferably with smartphone connectivity.
Weather and temperature may change dramatically during your long-distance ride. You might get into a short steep road with a cold breeze, then the next thing you know, you might have to ride through a gravel road with the sun shining right in front of you. So, it’s best to layer your clothes so you can easily wear and remove them depending on the temperature.
On the other hand, bike lights have slowly become a staple road requirement on major roads. This is why it’s best to have both front and rear bike lights. Aside from this, you’ll never know if you’d have to go through dark tunnels or when your ride might extend until nighttime–so it’s better to be safe with a trusty pair of bike lights.
Getting a GPS tracker would make your ride more interesting, especially if it’s your first time getting into a long ride. You’ll feel delighted to see how far you’ve gone at the end of your day. Plus, it’s the best way to keep yourself safe on unfamiliar roads.
3. Try Finding a Group
For beginners, it’s best to ride with your cycling friends on your first long-distance trip. Aside from your safety, they may also share practical tips on pedaling, maneuvering, and riding better for a long-distance ride.
To make it more exciting, you can get a set of bike lights for your friends with a group synchronization feature. This way, you can synch your bike light with their light setup and flash pattern if you’re still unsure how to configure your light setting. Aside from this, synchronized bike lights could also be appealing to other road users.
4. Pace Yourself and Build Up Gradually
Don’t treat your first long-distance ride as a sprint. Make sure that you pace yourself and slowly build up your speed. Don’t burn all your energy on the first leg of your ride. Here’s one of the most common pacing strategies among regular cyclists to keep your endurance:
- 24 miles per hour for the first 60 minutes
- 22 miles per hour in the next 5 hours
- 20 miles per hour on the next succeeding hours
- 12 miles per hour on your last 3 hours
Remember that your pacing depends on your body condition and the road you’ll be riding. So, ask other cyclists who have gone through the same route before planning your pacing strategy.
5. Pedal the Smart Way
Aside from your endurance, you should also learn the best way to pedal.
For long rides, it’s best to go with a higher cadence on a lower gear, as it would reduce muscle pressure throughout your ride because your gear would have less resistance. Switch to higher gear should you get into a downhill ride.
However, note that the way you pedal would be completely reliant on the mountain bike you have. As we’ve mentioned earlier, your bike can truly make or break your long-distance ride.
6. Recharge Yourself Through the Trip
Don’t deprive yourself of the energy that you need. Pull up when you need to, and grab your favorite snack.
An average cyclist might need 40-70g of carbohydrates per hour for a long-distance ride, so snacking and hydrating yourself every 30 minutes is a must. This is quite a lot considering a long ride is around 120 miles and more.
Investing in a good saddle bag that won’t just hold all your snacks but also your cycling tools is a must. If your body needs something to go through your ride, so is your bike!
7. Keep Yourself & Your Gears Safe
Last but not least, be mindful of your belongings. Most people don’t realize that bicycle theft has generated a higher loss of property than car theft. The worst part is that bike theft has no common pattern–it happens in the city, your favorite coffee shop, the countryside, or a crowded park.
For your first long-distance ride, it’s best to have an anti-theft device with a smartphone app. That way, you can track your bike should you need to park it whenever you want to rest.
Don’t be afraid to go the extra mile this 2023.
Going on a long-distance ride has become easier with all the innovative cycling technologies available today. You can maintain your road visibility, track your speed and distance, and protect your bike from thieves with just one cycling accessory. So, if you’re looking for a fun challenge this 2023, a long-distance ride might be the one for you!